Mudlarking: Background information when reading The Lost Apothecary

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The Lost Apothecary

A Novel

by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner X
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2021, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 22, 2022, 352 pages

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Mudlarking

This article relates to The Lost Apothecary

Depiction of mudlarks in London, 1871 In Sarah Penner's The Lost Apothecary, a historical mystery is set in motion when a character discovers a small blue vial while mudlarking. "Mudlarking" refers to the practice of scavenging for objects — generally manufactured or otherwise manmade ones that have been lost or thrown away — usually on the shore of a body of water such as a river. While one can mudlark anywhere in the world given the right conditions, the term originally described picking up items of value along the muddy banks of the River Thames in London, where Penner's novel takes place, and still has strong ties to the area.

Lara Maiklem, author of Mudlarking, first began scavenging on her family's farmland and has been scouring the shore of the Thames for objects of interest for upwards of 15 years. In an interview with Collectors Weekly, Maiklem explains that the word "mudlark" emerged in association with the river around the late 1700s, when gangs stole from cargo ships anchored on it. Alongside...

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